Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Full Contouring Tutorial

One of the earlier posts I wrote on Messy Wands was a mini contouring tutorial using NARS Multiples. I called it "mini" because it wasn't complete - I only demonstrated how to shade the cheeks, while contouring can involve the entire face. With summer quickly approaching, my makeup routine is now as simple as my clothing choices. I've been wearing less and less, and the contoured look is one of my stalwarts for something quick, easy, and effective. 

As I mentioned in said mini tutorial, contouring is about manipulating light (or what we perceive as light/shadow) to make your features more pronounced. We have in our makeup arsenal highlighters or luminizers that has light reflecting properties, or powders one shade lighter than your skin tone to give a similar effect, and bronzers to deepen your skin tone to mimic shadow. When used together, it gives dimension to an otherwise flat face (in my case quite literally, which is why I like to contour my nose).  

Below is a guide to how I contour my face, with the hope that it proves helpful to you.

Bare face, with shaded brows, CdP Concealer in Ochre and LMdB Peau Vierge #2

I shade according to the lines in the photo above: 
1. The area below the cheeks
2. The temples
3. The sides along the nose into the eyebrows
4. Along the jawline

L-R: bare face, contoured face

Contoured face

Contoured + blush

As for materials, you can use any texture you like, though I am partial to powders. There are dedicated contouring products out there (like the MAC Studio Sculpt line) but it is likely that you already have everything you need in your hands. You could use blushes or bronzers that are a couple shades darker than your skin tone – my personal favorite is Burberry Earthy.

Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow in Moss Green, Burberry Sheer Summer Glow Palette

For this particular post, I used Burberry Sheer Summer Glow Palette for most of my face, and the Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow palette for the contouring down the sides of the nose (I love that the palette has a dedicated shade just for that purpose!). To enhance the contours, I place highlighter down the center of the nose and the top of the cheekbones as well.

Top-Bottom: Suqqu Powder Brush, Hakuhodo 210 Blush Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow Brush L

Hakuhodo 210 Blush Brush

Much of a good contouring experience lies in the brushes you use. It is important to blend the color into the skin while maintaining a defined line, so while your brushes should be soft (bonus points for comfort) it should also retain a firm shape. I've tried a few, such as Shu Uemura 20H (slanted cheek), Hakuhodo S103 (pointed blush brush), and the MAC 109 (rounded blush brush), which is similar to my HG, the Hakuhodo 210 Blush Brush. All are effective and depends on what you personally prefer. I like the rounded shape for the density and firmness, and prefer the Hakuhodo over the MAC due to the softness of the bristles. I also like to use the Suqqu Eyeshadow Brush L where precision is needed (like the sides of the nose). 


  1. Wow, amazing result making you from beautiful to supermodel bonestructure. I never considered the temples but I'm going to do that one too now

  2. I am always surprised what conrouring can do, thanks for the post! I use the same brush (hakuhodo) for contouring btw *pets hakuhodo* :)

  3. Thanks for this Xiao! I'm going to try it out! I've never quite gotten the hang of contouring, so maybe that should be my goal for the summer.

  4. You know what's odd, I tend to avoid contouring my nose area because it often ends up looking awful. I really need to work on that, though.

    Great post, darling! :)

  5. I am just stunned at the difference it makes! Something must be said for your technique as it is incredibly natural. If you hadn't told us, I would assume that the contoured version was your natural bone structure.

  6. brikinbagbeauty- Thank you for such kind words!

    Claire- Love that brush :)

    Alex Kay- You'll love it!

    Brittany- Thanks! Me too :P

    caise- Thanks!

    dani- You can never look awful, darling!

    NeenaJ- Thank you :) (and shhh, that shall be our secret)

  7. Gorgeous! Your post might even make me try contouring my face again :)

  8. I love this post, great tips for contouring!

  9. Yay! Awesome tutorial, Wandz!

  10. You have KILLER cheekbones, Xiao--but the addition of contouring powder REALLY brings them out even more! Lovely!

  11. I'm too lazy to contour on most days but tomorrow I shall try. *chomp of gratitude*

  12. It's the magical appearance of the chompable cheekbones! Love this thorough tutorial.

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